Friday, February 5, 2016

Weekly Open Thread: Who's Your Favorite Purveyor of Nashville Hot Chicken?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 9:11 AM

click to enlarge Hot chicken from 400 Degrees - PHOTO: MICHAEL W. BUNCH
  • Photo: Michael W. Bunch
  • Hot chicken from 400 Degrees
This week in Dining, the Scene staff tackled a question:

National chain restaurants, including KFC and O'Charley's, are now serving what they call "Nashville Hot Chicken." How do these mass-market versions fare against the real thing?

To determine how well the fast-food chains' hot chicken stands up to the Nashville paragon, we decided only a blind tasting would be fair. And the contenders? The chains tend to sell tenders, not chicken on the bone, so in the interest of parity we left out the gold standard, Prince's, because they (traditionally and rightfully) serve hot chicken only on the bone.

So our Nashville Hot Chicken standard bearer in the test was tenders from 400 Degrees. Here's the lineup:
We ordered tenders from Jim 'N Nick's (an Alabama-born barbecue chain with more than 30 locations in seven states), Hattie B's in Midtown, KFC off Rosa L. Parks Boulevard, O'Charley's on White Bridge Road, and 400 Degrees downtown. When given an option — because some locations offer different levels of hot chicken — we went with "hot."
You'll have to read the story for the full report, but the tenders from Jim 'N Nick's tenders just barely edged out 400 Degrees for first. Now, as Seling points out, it's folly to try to declare who has the best hot chicken in Nashville: "not unanimously and democratically, anyway." There are too many variables and personal preferences. But that doesn't stop the Open Thread for asking: Who is your favorite purveyor of hot chicken?

And since this is the Open Thread, what else is on your mind?


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Taste Lynnville's Own Tenn South at Red in Bellevue

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 8:33 AM

click to enlarge How about some ice cold shine?
  • How about some ice cold shine?
Unless you make a real effort to visit Lynnville, Tenn., you'd probably never accidentally encounter the tiny town located about an hour south of Nashville on I-65. But you'd be missing out on a charming little hamlet that is the home of Col. Littleton, a high-end leather goods manufacturer, and Tenn South, a surprising little distillery on the outskirts of town. I made the trip down to visit Clayton Cutler, the head distiller at Tenn South, and taste through some of his products.

This was not a special event reserved for the big-city food and drink writer; you can get the same treatment if you drop in any time Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m., and, according to their website, "sometimes later if lots of folks come by." I was particularly impressed by the gins Cutler has been producing, both a clear Abernathy Gin and a barrel-aged version that exhibited some real nuance in the use of oak. Rather than hitting you in the face with juniper, Tenn South gin emphasizes more subtle citrus and herbaceous botanicals. I suggest you seek it out!

The distillery also makes a line of flavored and clear moonshines, a corn whiskey and their first aged Tennessee whiskey product. I discovered a few innovative procedures they are employing in the distillery that are still in the experimental stage, about which I'll share more when they are ready to see the light of day.

But if you'd like to try some of Tenn South's products, make your way to Red Wine and Spirits out in Bellevue this Saturday, Feb. 6 from 2 to 4 p.m., where Cutler will be leading a tasting through their line of spirits. The store is located at 7066 Highway 70 S., and they'll be waiting for you.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Local Restaurants Share Super Bowl Snack Ideas

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 9:57 AM

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You can imagine how stuffed a food writer's inbox gets around this time of the year, with scores of unsolicited recipes for Super Bowl-themed snacks. Some of them are pretty ludicrous, but you'll see the same basic recipes spread across the Internet, and I imagine they are clogging many Pinterest feeds right about now.

I try to exercise at least some restraint when it comes to including recipes here on Bites and not flood y'all with "10 ways to Celebrate National Rhubarb Day" posts unless there is some compelling local angle. So I was pleased to see that a few local restaurants have taken the initiative to share some hints and dishes that would be appropriate for your big football watching party, including some menu items that I've longed to try at home myself.

Without further ado, here are some recipes from Nashville favorites that you might actually attempt in your home kitchen. (Just make sure to print them out first or keep your laptop out of splatter range on your countertop.)

Continue reading »

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Mardi Gras Masquerade Party at Puckett’s Boat House

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 8:51 AM

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If you can't make it down to New Orleans (or, hey, Pensacola, Mobile or St. Louis), for Mardi Gras, you can still celebrate it in style at Puckett's Boat House in Franklin. The owners have roots in the Mississippi Delta where Mardi Gras is sacred,  so they'll be celebrating at the restaurant all day with beads and masquerade gear, as well as food specials and live music from Jumbo Shrimp starting at 7 p.m.

Along with their regular seafood menu, they'll serve red beans and rice, hot crawfish dip, blackened catfish and and the pièce de résistance, king cake. No word on what happens if you get the baby.

Mardi Gras Masquerade Party
Tuesday, Feb. 9
11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Puckett's Boat House
94 E. Main St., Franklin

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pied Piper Invites You to Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast This Weekend

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 1:39 PM

click to enlarge 10401923_10153943474244548_3762248150250461917_n.jpg
As if the most important meal of the day needed help in the popularity department, this weekend the folks at the eternally beloved Pied Piper Creamery want to ensure you have the best breakfast ever. 

All day on Saturday, Feb. 6, starting at 8 a.m., Pied Piper Creamery is throwing their annual Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. Wear your PJs (yes, even you adults) and enjoy waffle sundaes made with your favorite PPC breakfast-inspired ice cream flavors including Cereal Killer (made with cereals including Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and Ain't Jomamma's (blueberry pancake custard with a maple syrup swirl).

And they promise there will be a LOT of bacon, too. "A WHOLE LOT MORE BACON THAN LAST YEAR — GUARANTEED!" they say, in all caps. 

More information is available on the Facebook event page

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Buy Me Once: Buying Kitchen Gear to Last for Generations

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 11:14 AM

click to enlarge The beautiful Tupperware Harvest Gold cake carrier - ETSY.COM
  • etsy.com
  • The beautiful Tupperware Harvest Gold cake carrier
Recently, I have revealed my love for vintage Tupperware to a few people. Reactions range from amusement to concern (“Do you use other people’s old Tupperware??”). Well, technically, yes, but I am picky about it. I have a few pieces that my mother has passed along (purchased in the 1970s), but there are several she is just not yet willing to part with. The Harvest Gold cake carrier is one of her favorites, for example.

So I have my sources for other Tupperware. I won’t reveal them, but suffice it to say that I’ve had good luck acquiring really cool pieces that have little to no previous use. I have a knack for tapping into the market of collections of former Tupperware ladies of the 1960s and 1970s. These pieces are durable and made with safer plastics than those produced in the 1980s and later. Obviously, or they wouldn’t still be in use 40-plus years later. I take good care to hand wash them and never place them in the microwave (most pieces I collect wouldn’t fit in the dishwasher or microwave anyway).

In my kitchen, I also prefer to buy hearty gear that will last forever. A couple of pieces of Le Creuset (from the outlet store), Lodge cast iron, and all stainless saucepans of various brands (though I pine for All-Clad, I’ve been happy with Calphalon). I figure a good initial investment will pay off over years of use. That’s the same notion as that of Tara Button, a Brit who started the website BuyMeOnce.com, which was inspired by her Le Creuset casserole. She was interviewed recently about her site by the Telegraph, where she reveals that she plans to assemble a collection of recommendations for high-quality items across a variety of consumer goods, from kitchenware to children’s toys. Some items aren’t available in the States, but the website provides good guidelines and accepts suggestions from readers.

Speaking of suggestions from readers, Bites readers, what are your favorite “buy me once” items in the kitchen? The items you’ve had forever (or have been passed down to you) or that you’ve bought with longevity in mind?

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Local Restaurants Want to Cure Your VD Issues

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 9:44 AM

click to enlarge hearts.png
What, you don't refer to Valentine's Day that way? Whenever I retire from this gig or make the leap to working at home with Google and earning at least $6,474 per check, the first thing I'm gonna do is unsubscribe from a whole lot of email newsletters. But in order to keep up with the news for you, dear reader, my inbox stays pretty stuffed with restaurant news and special offers.

And let me tell you, Valentine's is an excuse to use up a lot of bytes and pixels. So as a public service to anyone out there who hasn't made their reservations for Valentine's (and you're lucky enough to stretch it out all weekend if you'd like,) here's a treasure trove of opportunities for dining out with your sweetheart. [Note: Due to the sheer volume of info, I've done little editing from the original format that I received the news. All the links should be active.]

5th & Taylor
1411 Fifth Ave. N.
615-242-4747
5thandtaylor.com
This Valentine’s weekend, guests at 5th & Taylor can expect menu surprises from chef and owner Daniel Lindley during dinner service on Friday, Feb. 12, Saturday, Feb. 13, and Sunday, Feb. 14, and Sunday brunch. Whether you are attached or flying solo, the ambiance and first-rate food at the Nashville hotspot is sure to make your experience a great one. For reservations, call or visit the website.

1808 Grille
1808 West End Ave.
615-340-0012
1808grille.com
This Valentine's Day, 1808 Grille is pulling out all the stopswith a four-course menu on Saturday, Feb. 13, and Sunday, Feb. 14, for $75 per person. Chef Jake Strang’s amorous menu includes a variety of items such as tuna poke, pear and parsnip soup, sous-vide duck breast and chocolate hazelnut crunch. For reservations, call or visit the website.

Trattoria Il Mulino
144 Fifth Ave. S.
615-620-3700
trattoriailmulinonashville.com
On Saturday, Feb. 13, and Sunday, Feb. 14, guests can fall head over heels for the San Valentino Dinner and the Il Mio Amore Dinner Package. The San Valentino Dinner is $95 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and includes a special prix-fixe menu, complimentary valet parking and strolling music. Diners who are looking for a little something extra can purchase the Il Mio Amore Dinner Package for $120 plus tax and gratuity, which includes all aspects of the San Valentino Dinner plus a rose with a romantic poem, a bottle of prosecco and a signature gift at departure. An optional wine pairing is available for an additional $35. To view the menus, visit the website. Reservations for the San Valentino Dinner and Il Mio Amore Dinner packages are required and can be made online or by calling 615-620-3700.

Midtown Cafe
102 19th Ave. S.
615-320-7176
midtowncafe.com

Midtown has extended the weekend to stretch from Thursday, Feb. 12, through Sunday night, Feb. 14, and is serving a separate Valentine's menu in addition to their regular fare. Here's the special offer:

Continue reading »

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Black Abbey to Celebrate '8 More Beers of Winter'

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 8:55 AM

click to enlarge Meier looking for his shadow
  • Meier looking for his shadow
Once again, Black Abbey Brewing Company is sharing their love of barrel-aged beers and showing off their talents at the practice by throwing their annual "8 More Beers of Winter" event this Saturday, Feb. 6, noonto 8 p.m. For one day only, they will be replacing their usual complement of draft beers with kegs of their barrel-aged specialties that they have been squirreling away all year, just for this occasion.

This obsession with melding oak and beer is no new development for the brewery, says brewery co-founder Carl Meier. “Our love affair with barrel-aging started for us as homebrewers. We love the delicious qualities that the barrels impart to our beers. This event is our chance to take our beer off the grid and give Nashville a completely unique and amazing experience.” 

Over the course of the day, patrons will have the chance to sample a rotating selection of Black Abbey beers that have been aged in barrels previously used for whiskey, rum, port, gin and bourbon, sourced from from local distilleries such as Corsair Artisan Distillery as well as from national brands such as Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses.

Black Abbey Brewing Company’s 8 More Beers of Winter will take place at the brewery taproom at 2952 Sidco Drive, and there is no charge for admittance. Pints and flights will be available for $6 and $15 respectively, but note that growler fills will not be available during the event, allowing more beer for attendees to share. There will be no brewery tours during the event, so come ready to enjoy some really special beers. As a bonus, local food truck Steaming Goat will be on site preparing specialty steamed sandwiches for purchase to help soak up some oak.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A First Look at The Hook, Chef Dale Levitski's New Place

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 11:22 AM

click to enlarge Tuna Poke and Crispy Catch - MA2LA
  • MA2LA
  • Tuna Poke and Crispy Catch
If it seems odd that a two fine dining chefs (Sinema chef Dale Levitski and chef Vasisht Ramasubramanian, most recently chef de cuisine at Chauhan Ale & Masala house, but also an alum of ABC Cocina in New York) would be working on a fast-casual concept, you may not be aware that it’s one of the hottest trends for big-name chefs across the country. Rick Bayless, Lorena Garcia, Richard Blais, Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio and Nashville’s own Jeremy Barlow are just a few of the early pioneers. More recently, David Chang and José Andrés have gotten in on the action. Chef-driven “faster food” is a concept we’ll see more often in the coming year. Reasons no doubt include the fact that fast-casual presents fewer barriers to entry into the market (lower start-up costs and a wider market appeal) and the attractiveness of being able to expand or franchise the concept.

Like many of the chef-driven fast-casual restaurants already in operation, the look and menu at The Hook — Levitski and Ramasubramanian's new spot, which is also the newest addition to the Melrose dining scene — indicates that a lot of time and thought went into its creation. At its heart, The Hook is a fried fish and chicken shack, but with a Nashville flair (hot fish; both roasted and fried chicken options brined in pickle juice) along with items suited to the tastes of Nashville’s "non-native" population. (Options include vegan and vegetarian salads and sandwiches; Italian beef sandwich; Low Country Boil; Creole Shrimp; Po Mi — the Crispy Catch is essentially fish and chips). Along with its fairly robust menu, the restaurant offers a kids' menu as well as a full bar that includes cocktails, wine and craft beers, featuring a selection of local beers.

The restaurant hosted a preview last night, so I got to try a few items on the menu. I started with the "She's All That," a vegetable sandwich that features seasonal vegetables topped with goat cheese on a sub roll and served with house-made dill pickle chips. The sandwich and chips were delicious. I also tried the vegetable of the day, a Brussels sprout and turnip hash, which was really good, but served in a mug, which kept it warm but a bit soggy after a while. I also tried a friend's seasoned curly fries (also delicious, but I have yet to meet a curly fry that I don't like; these were crisper than  most places, though which was a bonus.

Continue reading »

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Cochon Butcher Is Throwing a 'Brewcherie'

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 8:44 AM

click to enlarge brewcherie.jpg
One of the most famous episodes of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations series was when he visited Cajun country and took part in a traditional boucherie. In this ritual, a hog is dispatched (by Bourdain's hand in this case) and divided among different groups of the community. Each cadre of cooks is responsible for utilizing different parts of the pig in a true nose-to-tail event.

At Cochon Butcher in Germantown, they are big fans of whole-animal cookery and have decided to celebrate Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl by throwing a fête for a hundred lucky customers. Partnering up with Rhizome Productions to help coordinate the beer, they have decided to call this event a "Brewcherie." The party kicks off at noon this Sunday, Feb. 7 and will run until 4 p.m., leaving plenty of time to catch the kickoff of the big game.

Chef Levon Wallace has a special menu planned to accompany specially allocated brews from Abita Beer, Against the Grain, Yazoo and Oskar Blues, and there will also be musical entertainment. The gang at Cochon Butcher sees this as an opportunity to share their culture and introduce themselves again to Nashville. “More of a gathering of friends and family, boucheries are a unique culinary tradition that we want to continue and share with our Nashville friends,” says Mindy Theriot, general manager. “We are proud of the South Louisiana heritage that Cochon was founded on, and we invite everyone to come down and experience a more urban version of the boucherie with us.”

Tickets are $53.74 (including fees) and are going fast at the event website. Don't miss out, mon cher!



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